ACS Law gives up hunt for file-sharers

Controversial lawyer Andrew Crossley said he has given up sending threatening letters to people he alleges have been viewing films downloaded through P2P services.

Crossley threw in the towel in the middle of a court case he had brought to the patent court in London.

In a statement read to the court by a barrister, Crossley claimed he had to give up because of harrasssment. "I have ceased my work," he wrote. "I have been subject to criminal attack. My e-mails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threats," he whined.

The court has been considering 27 cases brought by Crossley's firm, ACS Law on behalf of his client MediaCAT. MediaCAT had already asked for the cases to be dropped, and has written to the defendents in that regard.

But presiding Judge Birss said he was not happy with that maoeuvre.

"I want to tell you that I am not happy. I am getting the impression with every twist and turn since I started looking at these cases that there is a desire to avoid any judicial scrutiny," he said.

Crossley virtually admitted that his tactic of sending menacing letters to people he accused of downloading content illegally had back-fired. "It has caused immense hassle to me and my family," he said.

ACS Law sent out thousands of letters on the back of data obtained from ISPs. The letters suggested victims cough up £500 or face legal action, but the tactic caused a backlash online.

When, back in September, the one-man-band's server was hacked into and Crossley's private emails were leaked online, the solicitor was demonstrably outed as the rather unsavourly individual his tactics has already suggested he may be.

One email to his ex-wife was particularly forthright. He also regularly laid into Deborah Prince, legal chief for consumer rights outfit Which? and one of his biggest detractors. In one e-mail Crossley states "Deborah Prince is a total idiot". He wonders whether it would be better to issue "a complaint to the sra [Solicitors Regulation Authority] that this lady [Prince] - who is a solicitor - is bringing the profession into disrepute."

The outing of the missive is tinged with irony, since Crossley reveals in another email that there had been over five hundred complaints registered against him with the Solicitor's Regulation Authority.

The leaks also put into the public domain e-mails from and on behalf of pensioners who vehemently denied having consumed the porn Crossley had alleged in his letters.

The firm faced an investigation over the leak, which also saw the details of 10,000 UK broadband customers - many of whom were accused of downloading such pornographic fare as: To The Manor Porn and Catch Her In The Eye.

The court hearings learned that Crossley was taking a 65 per cent of any revenue it managed to extract with its letter campaign.

In his statement, Crossley denied he has anything to with with GCB Ltd, a firm which has taken off where ACS Law left off and is currently bombarding people with similar letters. He said his only connection with the frim was that some of its employees learned their trade at ACS Law.

A judgement on the case is expected later this week.